Cinco de Mayo is a great opportunity to celebrate and teach children about the combined US and Mexican cultures. These are some Cinco de Mayo activities for kids educational ideas.
Despite what you might think you know about Cinco de Mayo, I’ll bet you probably don’t *really* know what the day is about.
Cinco de Mayo actually marks the day the Mexican Army, despite all odds against them in the Battle of Puebla, was able to defeat the French army and give the Americans time to win the American Civil war.
While widely touted as a Mexican holiday, the 5th of May is really only celebrated in and around Puebla, Mexico and here in the United States! The holiday has become popular in the U.S. because it celebrates the Mexican heritage of many Americans.
Here are some fun facts about Cinco de Mayo:
- In the 1800’s, Mexicans were fighting against the French invaders.
- Cinco de Mayo was declared a national holiday in 1937.
- There are more than 1 million celebrations held each year across America.
- People dress up as different characters from the history of Mexico like Hidalgo, Cortez, Montezuma, etc.
- Some cerveza (spanish for beer) brands have special cans that represent the colors of the flag of Mexico.
Even though Cinco de Mayo is kind of a US made-excuse to party day, it is popular in Mexican-American communities and it’s a great opportunity to celebrate and teach children about the combined cultures.
Cinco de Mayo History and Origins
The origins of this celebration are unknown, but it has been observed since 1820 in both countries. In America, there are parades held to celebrate cinco de mayo with bands playing music and dancers performing traditional dances.
There are also food festivals where foods such as tacos, chile peppers, guacamole, tortillas, beans, sofrito, salsas, tamales, nachos, cheese dip, chips, pico de gallo, enchiladas, burritos, fajitas, quesadillas, rice and more are served.
These dishes have become popular all over the world due to their availability at these events. A special treat many families enjoy together is eating lots of delicious foods!
Some say that cinco de mayo originated from an Aztec festival called “Cuitlauhqui.” This day was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the god of war. He was believed to be born every year on the fifth of each month.
During his birth ceremony, young boys would wear small masks made out of paper or cloth depicting the face of Huitzilopochtl. They were then taken into battle against other tribes.
Today, children use similar costumes during celebrations like cinco de mayo. Children dress up in colorful outfits and carry papier mache dolls representing warriors. They dance around town while singing songs about the history of cinco de mayo.
Cinco de Mayo for Kids
Enjoy a video lesson
Videos are great for learning about history and seeing other places and cultures without having to travel.
With so many fun events closed down, you can take advantage of this holiday by pulling up a few great videos on Cinco de Mayo and Mexican culture in general on YouTube to use this opportunity for learning.
Cinco de Mayo Crafts
Arts and crafts are a great way to keep kids busy while sneaking in some facts and education. There are several great projects found online to work on with kids for celebrating Cinco De Mayo.
Coloring – Probably our favorite activity. It’s quiet, relaxing and you get to put them up on the fridge when you’re done! Download our free Cinco de Mayo pages coloring book printable and enjoy.
Flags – Making papel picado or cut paper flags is a great way to celebrate the Mexican culture with a fun bit of decoration you can keep.
The process for kids at home is similar to making paper snowflakes through the real flags made by artists use punches that allow them to make intricate designs.
Piñata – Making a homemade piñata is a fun Cinco de Mayo craft for kids that can double as an activity later during your Cinco de Mayo celebration. This one may be best to work on in the days leading up to rather than on the holiday so it has plenty of time for the paste and paint to dry.
Of course if you’re not crafty or waited until the last minute, Amazon always has you covered on next day delivery piñatas for your party.
Music – While you can always put on some of your favorite latin beats for Cinco De Mayo, a kids instrument set is the perfect way to dive right in to creating their own music.
This toy set includes: Xylophone, 2 Maracas, 2 Egg Shakers, 2 Finger Clappers, Tambourine, Drum Sticks, Wood Sounder, 2 Wrist Bells and a Triangle with a Striker.
17 pieces in all, these musical toys will help boys and girls learn the sounds and tones different instruments make and will unleash their musical creativity!
Playdough – On this day, families get together and enjoy delicious foods such as tacos, enchiladas, burritos, tamales, nachos, guacamole, salsas, chips, salsa, hot dogs, hamburgers, cheese dip, churros, and much more!
Try making some of your favorite Mexican foods using our homemade easy playdough recipe. This will be a lot of fun for both children and adults.
Cinco de Mayo recipes
You can’t study culture without giving the food a try. Well you could, but why miss out? While most people think of taco trucks and Mexican restaurants when planning their Cinco de Mayo celebrations, these are also unfortunately more often than not, Americanized tex-mex versions of traditional foods.
To make the most of your cultural adventure, instead of going and looking for the most authentic place to eat out at – why not try making some of your favorite Mexican dishes at home?
Most ingredients can be found in any local grocery store, but my best tip is to make sure you use fresh everything.
Mexican Recipes right here on our blog:
- Easy Homemade Churro Recipe with a Hint of Chocolate
- Forget the beer, try Margarita Battered Shrimp Tacos instead!
Snag a copy of Mexican Family Cooking: The Authentic Cuisine of Mexico in over 260 Mouthwatering Recipes: A Cookbook for a family-friendly and fun collection of authentic recipes.
This book adds some great information about the area each dish is from for a great cultural lesson for each recipe.
Visit a parade or event
If your community is hosting any Cinco De Mayo events this is a great opportunity to get out and have some fun.
Many communities are broadcasting parades and over events for everyone to enjoy even if they can not attend the celebration in person. These are a great way to get up close and personal with the bright and cheerful fiesta celebrations Mexico is so well known for.
Do you have more free printables I can download for my child?
Yes, we do! I love creating free activities and printables for children of all ages – adults too. Some worksheets are educational and some just plain for fun.
Check out the Free Printables section of the blog and be sure to check back often as I try to add new free worksheets weekly.
We also just launched a Crafts and Printables blog dedicated to fun DIY crafts and printables for everyone.
You’ll find a variety of activities like sewing tutorials, home DIY projects, paper crafts, printable planners, educational worksheets, easy holiday crafts for kids and so much more.